Port Alberni’s future is as a shipping hub, according to Conservative candidate John Duncan.
“Port Alberni is going to be a place to ship commodities and receive goods,” said Duncan, current MP for Vancouver Island North. Duncan is now running for a spot in the new riding of Courtenay-Alberni (the riding split into North Island-Powell River and Courtenay-Alberni for the 2015 federal election).
“It will be a shipping hub and there are lots of jobs that go with that,” he said.
But Duncan believes that some things about the Alberni Valley need to change before that can happen.
“The biggest thing we can do for Port Alberni is to make it more accessible to new industries,” he said.
“Everyone would benefit from a second connector.”
But Duncan thinks that more than just shipping jobs will come to the Alberni Valley.
Manufacturers, Duncan says, will flock to shipping hubs and create the manufacturing jobs that the city used to depend on.
“Industrial waterfront in Port Alberni is a huge asset… it’s available land that’s easily serviceable.”
He believes that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), agreed to by Canada last week, will benefit a region like the Alberni Valley.
“It will benefit Port Alberni hugely,” Duncan said.
“Tariffs will come off immediately.”
With many in Port Alberni concerned about the region’s shift from manufacturing to exporting unprocessed products, Duncan said that the TPP will benefit both equally.
Speaking about the balance between exporting the two, he said “it will be neutral in that regard.”
With Canadian exports growing, he added, “Port Alberni is, without much imagination, a good place to receive and ship from.”
Economic growth in the Alberni Valley is not uncertain, he said.
“It’s not a maybe—it’s going to happen.”
He doesn’t think it will necessarily come from renewable energy.
“It’s not a very fast growing industry.”
Duncan still stands by comments made during the all-candidates meeting at the Hupacasath House of Gathering on Sept. 28, when he told a woman from the Hesquiaht First Nation that issues in remote communities like hers were best dealt with locally and not by the federal government.
“I stand by that statement. I don’t think that government can be all things to all people,” Duncan said, adding that he believes local issues at the remote Hesquiaht reserve are best dealt with by their tribal council.
“There’s a role for the tribal council for remote and rural communities.”